Thursday, October 20, 2016

PWG Battle of Los Angeles 2016 Stage One Review

PWG Battle of Los Angeles Stage One
September 2nd, 2016 | Reseda, California

Last year, I checked out PWG’s annual Battle of Los Angeles tournament for the first ever time. I thought that tournament was good but not great and nowhere near the level of the best tournaments I’ve ever seen (like the G1 Climax 24 for example). However, PWG always brings in some big names and it makes for some interesting matches throughout.

First Round Match
Marty Scurll def. Pentagon Jr. in 13:06

I really like both of these guys, so this is off to a good start. The crowd was molten hot for both men before it even began. Both guys did their trademark heel stuff but the only thing to actually get boos was Scurll going after Pentagon’s mask. Scurll hit two superkicks from the apron, followed by a suicide tornado DDT. Screw the fans though as Scurll flipped them off. Pentagon took advantage of that opening with a tope con hilo. There were more superkicks exchanged inside. The Young Bucks would be proud. Scurll came close to winning with a second, bigger tornado DDT. Pentagon hit a corner exploder that broke the bottom turnbuckle so the rest of the match had a loose bottom rope. Pentagon no sold some clotheslines and insinuated that Scurll wasn’t man enough to knock him down by pointing to his huevos. Somehow, Scurll kicked out of pumphandle driver and the Package Piledriver for an insane near fall. In one of my favorite moments in recent memory, Marty did his finger snap spot but Pentagon just pops them back into place like a badass. Marty countered the Package Piledriver into the cross for the win. Awesome opener featuring two guys that I really like going at it. Pentagon was on another level of badass, but Scurll was just a bit smarter. ***¾

First Round Match
Ricochet def. Jeff Cobb in 13:57

PRINCE PUMA VS. MATANZA CUETO! Chuck Taylor saying that “Mr. Athletic” Jeff Cobb sounds like an 80’s jobber was a highlight. Ricochet was his athletic self and Cobb was a monster. Early on, he shoulder blocked him into oblivion. Cobb blocked the People’s Moonsault by just picking Ricochet up for a powerslam. After getting tossed around for a while, Ricochet showed off his power by picking up Cobb for an impressive exploder. He followed that with a pretty dive to the outside. Still, no matter what Ricochet did, Cobb was almost unfazed and would continue to toss him around. Ricochet finally managed to pull Cobb into a small package and steal it. This was good but not great. I think they had the right idea with the finish but it would have worked better for me if Ricochet played the match a bit less even. Cobb could have done more so that Ricochet’s rollup win would have felt like desperation. I think that would have been a better plan. Still, we got some really good stuff between two very talented individuals.***½

First Round Match
John Hennigan def. Matt Sydal in 14:14

Two guys that hung around the WWE mid-card during a pretty down era for the company. Both have gone on to do well for themselves since then though. Hennigan being billed from Slamtown USA is a top five thing he’s ever done. There was an early ECW chant that made me laugh. This was a strange match. They did some odd comedy stuff that never really caught on with me. Considering the guys involved, this was far slower than I expected it to be. It’s like, they did some cool things but a lot of it seemed to have no point. The crowd was less into this than the previous matches, Hennigan didn’t deliver and Sydal didn’t seem to care. Hennigan won with the Starship Pain. Moving on. **¼

First Round Match
Will Ospreay def. Fenix in 10:28

Two of the best high-fliers on the planet in this one. Ospreay can be really good when he’s on, while Fenix is almost always awesome. They began at a really quick pace, which was expected. Ospreay hit the first big dive to the outside. Fenix did one better with a sick corkscrew plancha right after. Surprisingly, Ospreay took things to the mat and slowed it down a bit. Fenix nailed a sweet springboard rana before he tried a second variation only for Ospreay to land on his feet. They went up top and did the spot everyone talked about from the trailers. Fenix’s Spanish fly off the top saw both men land on their feet and I’ll admit, it was really impressive. Ospreay got his knees up on a springboard 450 before winning with the Oscutter. A really good match that had a bit of a lull in the middle but really picked up near the end. Maybe my expectations were a bit high since I expected more. Really enjoyable and certainly worth a watch. I would have had this go 14 and given the 10 minutes to Sydal and Hennigan.***½

First Round Match
PWG Champion Zack Sabre Jr. def. Tommy End in 16:40

Zack Sabre Jr. won the PWG Championship with the title shot that he earned by winning this tournament in 2015. Tommy End was wrapping up some indy dates before starting with the WWE. In 2015, all of the buzz was positive about Sabre. 2016 has been less kind to him. He got booed in both Evolve and RevPro, while his run through the Cruiserweight Classic left a lot to be desired. The issue a lot of people have with him was evident here. He’s like, a spot monkey of technical moves. Sometimes he does them for the sake of doing them instead of with any purpose to the match. The early portions of this match were kind of just there. The second half of the match picked up and I loved watching End lay in the strikes. Sabre was good at returning the favor and I liked his focus on the arm. After some excellent strike exchanges, Sabre won with an octopus hold variation. Like I said, this was really weak early on, but got really awesome near the end. Cut out some of that opening stuff and this could have been really strong. ***¼

First Round Match
Chris Hero def. Jushin Thunder Liger in 14:59

Yea, this was one of, if not the most exciting matchup on the card. Liger is 51 and still rules. Hero is fat and still rules. Excalibur noted that Liger made his wrestling debut before 8 of the guys competing in the tournament tonight were even born. We were treated to the disrespectful Hero, which was fun. This had a different pace than most of the matches on this show. It felt like both men knew the other was someone legitimate enough to not take any chances with. Hero just continued to talk smack throughout, calling Liger the oldest young boy as he kicked him. He dared Liger to show him something, so he got slapped up and ate a rolling kick. Liger managed to pull out a brainbuster and the Liger Bomb, but Hero was too tough. Hero did his own Liger Bomb but the 51-year-old kicked out at one! He fired up only to fall to a ripcord elbow. Really good match that felt like a special one. Hero as the asshole who disrespects the legend worked well to add something to this. I would have liked to see Liger go on a bit of a run in the tourney. ***½

Adam Cole and the PWG Tag Team Champions The Young Bucks def. Dalton Castle and reDRagon in 19:13
Dalton Castle’s “boys” were played by reDRagon tonight. The Bucks wore gear with Dave Meltzer’s face all over them, getting a “five star gear” chant. Credit to reDRagon for being up for EVERYTHING that the boys do. Dalton used them as steps, they fanned him and did his trademark pose. Taylor calling Cole a fat piece of shit in trunks and mentioning that the “old” boy couldn’t fully arch his back were two hilarious moments. They did a lot of comedy stuff, including the unmasking of Bobby Fish, who promptly put it back on like nothing happened. The teams worked a very even match. Cole and Castle had fun chemistry, while the Bucks and reDRagon have wrestled a million times. reDRagon revealed themselves and put in mouth guards, causing the Bucks to run and leave Cole alone with them. The closing stretch is where this match moved from comedy into more of a frenzy. Eventually, the match ended with a double Meltzer Driver. This was a fine way to send the fans home. It isn’t my exact cup of tea, but some of the comedy moments were fun and the final stretch was enjoyable. **¾

Overall: 7/10. A good way to start the tournament. Nothing on the show was blow away great or a match of the year contender, but nothing was really bad either. The only match that I’d say is worth a skip is Sydal/Hennigan. Ricochet/Cobb, Liger/Hero and Ospreay/Fenix are all fun, while Scurll/Pentagon was the MOTN. Add in the compact two hour runtime and this is a breeze to watch.